Mehdi Hasan to host new weekly show on Al Jazeera
- Full-time move will see Hasan leave the UK for Washington DC
Journalist Mehdi Hasan is to host a new programme on global broadcaster Al Jazeera English. He joins the channel full-time for the weekly show, which will broadcast from Washington DC. Kicking off in 2015, it means he will move to the US from London.
Hasan will go behind the headlines to examine important stories through in-depth, hard-hitting interviews with big-name guests and lively discussions involving experts from across the world.
The new programme comes after the success of Head to Head. Hasan’s inquisitorial hour-long “interviews with attitude” at the Oxford Union have been amongst Al Jazeera English’s most-watched programmes. Currently in its third series of seven episodes, interviewees have included Richard Dawkins, Martin McGuinness and Jimmy Wales. Head to Head will continue as a separate series in the UK, with some episodes filmed in the US.
Commenting on his move, Mehdi Hasan said:
"I'm incredibly excited to be joining Al Jazeera full-time and interviewing high-profile guests on one of the world's biggest and best-known news channels. I couldn't turn down what is the job opportunity of a lifetime – to present a flagship weekly show, out of Washington DC, on the stories and issues that really matter to people in all corners of the globe."
Al Anstey, managing director of Al Jazeera English said:
“This new series with Mehdi will use his probing and robust interview techniques to ask the questions that often get left behind by others. These highly challenging, dynamic and provocative weekly review shows will surprise and inspire viewers, as Mehdi challenges guest after guest to reveal the stories behind the story. It will be rigorously intellectual and unashamedly forensic.
“Strongly anchored by Al Jazeera’s global and human perspective, and building on the success of Head to Head, this new series will give space to a provocative, playful and inquisitive Mehdi Hasan.”
Mehdi Hasan is an award-winning British journalist, broadcaster, author and social commentator. He moves to Al Jazeera from the Huffington Post UK where he was political director.
He has been named one of the 100 'most influential' Britons on Twitter, and included in the annual global list of 'The 500 Most Influential Muslims' in the world ('The Muslim 500'). His debate-winning speech at the Oxford Union on Islam and peace went viral online, amassing more than two million views. Mehdi is also the author of two books – a biography of Labour Party leader Ed Miliband and an e-book on debt and the financial crisis.
Volvo Ocean Race sets up report into Team Vestas Wind grounding
ALICANTE, Spain, December 16 – An independent report into the grounding of Team Vestas Wind’s boat on a reef in the Indian Ocean has been set up by the Volvo Ocean Race.
The incident happened on November 29 on Leg 2 of the current 12th edition. The crew escaped safely after suffering minor injuries. The boat, Vestas Wind, ran aground on the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St. Brandon), 240 nautical miles northeast of Mauritius.
A panel, to be chaired by Rear Admiral Chris Oxenbould (Rtd), is to provide the Volvo Ocean Race with its final report by January 31, 2015.
Volvo Ocean Race intends to make the report publicly available to make sure its learnings benefit the whole sailing world and not only the race. This is scheduled for no later than during the Auckland stopover (February 27-March 15).
It can draw upon a wide range of input from, among others, crew members of competing boats in the event, members of the race committee, electronic chart providers, and the emergency services organisers.
Rear Admiral Oxenbould is a former deputy chief of the Australian Navy and an experienced ocean racing yachtsman with a particular expertise in navigation. He is also the chairman of the Yachting Australia National Safety Committee.
Ocean navigational expert, Stan Honey who won the Volvo Ocean Race 2005-06 as navigator onboard ABN AMRO ONE, and Chuck Hawley who serves as the chairman of the U.S. Sailing Safety at Sea Committee, will assist the Rear Admiral Oxenbould on the report.
The panel will examine:
- What happened and why Vestas Wind ran aground
- Consider all the Race’s administrative procedures and documentation in place for the race
- Review the emergency management procedures in place and their effectiveness in the incident
- Make findings and recommendations as to any changes to the race rules, procedures, administration, documentation, boats or equipment that might serve to prevent a possible recurrence
The Team Vestas Wind crew and sponsors are collaborating fully with the panel’s investigations.
|Brian Carlin/Team Vestas Wind/Volvo Ocean Race
Al Jazeera journalist killed in Syria
“Targeting journalists and its crew will not deter us from reporting the truth” – Al Jazeera DG
For Immediate Release
Doha, 11/12/14 – Al Jazeera Media Network sadly announces the killing of its Arabic correspondent in Syria, Mahran Al Deeri, on Wednesday, 10th December 2014, while covering battles in the city of Al Sheikh Maskin in rural Daraa.
According to his family members, Mahran was killed while taking cover from regime fire as his car hit the vehicle of rebel fighters when he turned off his headlights to avoid being targeted. This is the same area where three other journalists from the Orient Network were targeted and killed three days ago.
Al Jazeera’s Acting Director General, Mostefa Souag said: “Our martyred colleague Mahran Al Deeri has worked with aljazeera.net for over a year and was known for his courage, bravery and professional coverage of the Syrian revolution in the area of Daraa and its suburbs.”
“Targeting journalists will not deter us from reporting the truth which we have been committed to for over 18 years”, Souag continues, “Throughout our years of coverage we have lost many colleagues on this mission but our brave journalists are committed to this despite the constant dangers and challenges.“
Mahran Al Deeri wass from Al Sheikh Maskin in Daraa where he was born in 1983 and excelled in studies. He studied media in Damascus University and graduated in 2008 where he worked for SANA, the government news agency. He was married and had two children.
Al Deeri left SANA very early on at the start of the Syrian revolution, as he believed the agency was reporting false news on the Syrian people. Because of the constant shelling of Daraa by regime forces, he fled temporarily to Jordan, but he rejected the fate of a refugee and returned to Daraa shortly afterwards to do independent journalism. Al Deeri came to Al Jazeera.Net (Al Jazeera’s Arabic online platform) as a freelancer in October 2013 to report on the revolutionaries in the area of Houran.
“He was one of the most competent correspondents,” say his colleagues at Al Jazeera.Net, where he was known for thoroughly verifying his sources before submitting a story. “He was daring and courageous and whenever he was warned about reporting in a dangerous area, he would always reply, smiling, ‘Freedom comes with martyrs, and journalism without sacrifice is a false testimony’.”
Alicante success story
ALICANTE, Spain, December 9 – The Volvo Ocean Race 2014-15 departure stopover in Alicante generated a boost for the Community of Valenciana valued at €66.3 million and €89.3 for Spain as a whole, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers economic impact study released on Tuesday.
The study, presented at a news conference at the Race’s museum in Alicante by the Community’s regional minister, Juan Carlos Moragues, showed a rise of 7.1% of financial benefit to the region compared to the last edition in 2011-12.
This improvement was even more impressive bearing in mind that the Alicante race departure stopover last month was held over 10 days (October 2-11 inclusive) compared to 23 in 2011.
Alicante has been the departure port for the nine-month global round-the-world race for the past three editions dating back to 2008 and also hosts the Race’s headquarters.
Key data from the report shows:
313,463 visitors entered the Alicante Race Village.
These visitors generated €34.18 million for the Community of Valenciana.
58,208 visited on October 9, a bank holiday in the region. This was the highest total for a day during the period (October 2-11).
The stopover generated the equivalent of 1,716 new full-time jobs for Spain as a whole, of which 1,652 were created in the region of Valenciana.
69.9% of the international visitors, who came to the region of Valenciana because of the Volvo Ocean Race, confirmed that they would return in the future.
97% of those said they would recommend the region as a tourist destination.
Knut Frostad, CEO of the Volvo Ocean Race since 2008, told the conference via a link from Abu Dhabi on Tuesday: “This has been the best departure stopover that I have ever seen. This is a view that is shared by the sponsors, teams and visitors.
“I believe we can celebrate the collaboration that we’ve had (with the Community of Valenciana) until now and I’m delighted to continue this close working relationship towards the Volvo Ocean Race in 2017-18."
Team Vestas Wind looks at new boat option
ABU DHABI, December 8 – Team Vestas Wind is ‘exploring the opportunity’ of re-entering the Volvo Ocean Race with a new boat just over a week after their Volvo Ocean 65 ran into a reef in the Indian Ocean..
With their crew now safely on land, attention has turned to retrieving the stricken vessel, grounded on the Cargados Carajos Shoals (St Brandon), some 260 miles north east of Mauritius – and whether the Danish team will return to the race.
“It is Vestas’ clear ambition to get Team Vestas Wind out sailing again,” said the sailing team’s CEO Morten Albæk, at a press call in Abu Dhabi. “We’ll do everything within our means to make that happen.
“That said, the assessment from all parties is that the boat can’t be repaired, and therefore one of the options we’re looking into is building a new boat,” added Albæk, who is also title sponsors Vestas’ Chief Marketing Officer.
“Whether that can be done, and done in a time which is meaningful for Team Vestas Wind to re-enter the race, is still to be concluded.
“We’re working closely together with Volvo Ocean Race on exploring that opportunity.”
Skipper Chris Nicholson (AUS), who led his crew in an early hours evacuation from the boat on November 29, and on to the remote island of Íle du Sud, where they remained for the next 48 hours before hitching a ride to Mauritius on a local fishing boat, echoed those hopes.
“Prior to the crash in the preceding 48 hours, Wouter and I in regard to our normal duties of looking where the boat was going with the routing, noticed that there would be some seamounts. When I saw those I asked what the depths and the currents and the wave conditions would be.
“Wouter’s reply was that the depths went from 3000m to 40m, (which) were the extremes of the depths, the current was negligible and we would monitor the wave state as we approached…”
Team Vestas Wind navigator Wouter Verbraak (NED) explained the reason for the accident to the media:
“In hindsight we would’ve continued to zoom in on the area much more, on the electronic charts. Not doing so is the big mistake that I made, but the good thing is that we didn’t make any more.”
The incident happened around the midway point of the 5,200 nautical mile Leg 2 from Cape Town to Abu Dhabi of the nine-month round-the-world race which finishes in Gothenburg, Sweden, on June 27 next year.
It is Australian Nicholson’s fifth Volvo Ocean Race, and he and the rest of the crew have been debriefed by team and race officials over the weekend in Abu Dhabi and will shortly return home to their individual countries.
Volvo Ocean Race CEO Knut Frostad explained that, for the damaged boat, the recovery operation is still ongoing, and the parties involved are working together to bring about a swift resolution.
“We’re all making our absolute best efforts to do what is right. We have a very clear mission on this and that is to make sure that the absolute minimum impact is done to the environment.
“The plan is to remove the boat, either in its current form, or in a different form. We’re working on this right now, trying to make it happen as quickly as possible.
“Our next objective is to learn from this, and support Vestas, Powerhouse, and the team in their efforts to have a future in the race.
“I must underline that that is no small challenge. I don’t want anyone to have expectations that this will easily happen; it’s an enormous challenge.
“But the Volvo Ocean Race is all about enormous challenges – and here is another one.”
Patrick Lammers, a member of retail board RWE, said on behalf of sub-sponsors Powerhouse: “We are seeking opportunities to return to the race as soon as possible. In what form, and when, is impossible to say at this time, but all options are seriously considered.”
* To listen to the entire audio, please click here.
Former Bush official: I wish Hugo Chavez died earlier
For Immediate Distribution
Former US Assistant Secretary of State opposes relaxing embargo on Cuba
Defends US support of the Contras in Nicaragua
Claims there was no US support for Guatemalan dictator Efrain Rios Montt
Comments come in Head to Head episode that asks: “Should the US get out of Latin America?”
"Somebody has given us this great power to influence events and we're going to continue to influence events in the way that they have been over the last 50 years," says Otto Reich, the former US Assistant Secretary of State who was at the heart of US foreign policy towards Latin America under the last three Republican presidents.
On this new episode of Head to Head, airing on 5th of December, Reich, who was Assistant Secretary of State under George W. Bush at the time of the 2002 coup attempt against Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, was asked by a member of the Oxford Union audience if he felt regret for the state of US Venezuela relations.
Reich responded “Yes, I feel regret. I wish that Hugo Chávez had passed earlier, […] I don’t want to put myself in the position of the person who made that decision […] He died of cancer, as you know. Although, by the way, I’ve been accused of injecting him with cancer, […] This shows you the ridiculousness of the allegations”.
To which Al Jazeera Host Mehdi Hasan countered that “maybe that’s because the US tried to kill Castro several times?”
Reich acknowledged, “Yes. […] the US did, and, and I’m sorry that it failed. Just like, if we had been able to kill Hitler in 1938, we should have with no regrets. Now, let me just tell you, since I had nothing to do with [the 2002 coup against Chávez], and what I used to joke at that time is if I had something to do with the coup it would probably have turned out differently.”
In a fiery exchange with Hasan, Reich questioned the transparency of the Venezuelan elections won by Chávez and his party, and called Venezuela an “authoritarian regime”.
Reich, who was former President George H. W. Bush’s special envoy to Latin America, was asked by Hasan whether he would be “in favour of easing the [Cuban] embargo in any way” Reich argued that it should be “kept as it is” as it “brings a cost” to the Castro regime.
Reich also strongly rejected claims that he lobbied for Orlando Bosch, a Cuban national accused of planting a bomb on a Cuban airliner that killed 73 people in 1976, to be allowed into the United States.
Linked to the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s, Reich still defends US support of the Nicaraguan Contras, a group funded and backed by the US and accused of committing war crimes and human rights violations by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among others.
Under intense questioning by Hasan, Reich finally admitted that “if the Contras committed murder, then yes it’s on my conscience”.
Otto Reich also denied US support to Efrain Rios Montt the Guatemalan dictator who was convicted of genocide in May 2013 before his sentence was overruled by the Guatemalan Supreme Court later that month.
Hasan pointed out that the “UN Truth Commission Report that involved US testimony […] said ‘that the Guatemalan military would not have been able to carry out their genocide in the eighties had it not been for US support’,” to which Reich unequivocally answered “there was no US support”.
Reich was part of the Reagan Administration when President Reagan, in an official speech, called Rios Montt “a man of great personal integrity” and said his administration would “do all it can to support his progressive efforts”.
Reich said he regretted not doing more to “reduce corruption” and not getting rid “of more dictatorships” in Latin America. He pointed out he refused to shake hands with Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet and Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza during their respective visits to the United States.
The interview with Otto Reich is part of the third series of Head to Head, which is Al Jazeera’s forum for ideas, hosted by Mehdi Hasan.
Hasan was joined by a panel of three experts: John Dew former British Ambassador to Colombia and Cuba; Julia Buxton specialist on Venezuela and the War on Drugs at the Central European University in Budapest; and Francisco Dominguez Head of the Latin American Studies Centre at Middlesex University and Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.
In each episode, Hasan goes head to head with a special guest, asking the probing and hard-hitting questions few dare to ask on big issues such as faith, foreign intervention, the Middle East, US foreign policy, and the economic crisis.
The third series also features controversial author and thinker Dr. Norman Finkelstein, author and leading China defender Dr. Zhang Weiwei, former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, former Iraq National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie, former European Commission Vice-President Vivane Reding, and legendary US economist Arthur Laffer.
The second series of Head to Head, which was aired first in February 2014, saw Hasan interview Egyptian feminist and activist Mona Eltahawy, former head of the British Army General Sir Mike Jackson, and Internet guru and co-founder of Wikipedia Jimmy Wales.
Should the US get out of Latin America? with Otto Reich will be broadcast on Friday, December 5 at 2000GMT, and will be repeated on Saturday, December 6 at 1200GMT; Sunday, December 7 at 0100GMT; and Monday, December 8 at 0600GMT.
After its first broadcast on December 5th 2000 GMT, the full episode with Otto Reich will be available online on: http://aje.me/1uAyVDG .
‘Ship-wrecks’ arrive safe, tell of escape from mid-ocean reef
ALICANTE, Spain, December 3 – Volvo Ocean Race’s ship-wrecked nine-man Team Vestas Wind crew finally made it back to civilisation on Wednesday, telling of their amazing escape from a collision with an Indian Ocean reef which grounded their boat.
The unshaven, exhausted team in the global ocean race were holed up, incommunicado, for three days in the remote archipelago after their boat ran into the reef on Saturday afternoon at 1510 UTC.
Chris Nicholson, their 45-year-old skipper from New South Wales, who was contesting his fourth edition of the nine-month Volvo Ocean Race until the accident at the weekend, said he was still piecing together his emotions after the crash.
“I’m really disappointed of course – on the other hand, we have to realise how fortunate we are for everyone to be here in one piece, and to be healthy. It’s pretty amazing, so there’s a lot of emotions at the moment,” he told volvooceanrace.com shortly after arriving at dockside in Mauritius.
“The past four days have been very challenging for all of us, and I am extremely proud of the whole crew’s professionalism, composure, and endurance. It’s clear that human error is responsible for the shipwreck, there’s no avoiding that. And as skipper, I take ultimate responsibility.”
They had smashed into the coral rock at 19 knots – the equivalent of 35 kilometres an hour – in the 65-foot Volvo Ocean 65 boat, span 180 degrees and crashed to a halt, grounded on the reef.
They remained on the reef until the small hours of the following morning, before abandoning the boat in pitch darkness and wading in knee deep water to a dry position on the reef, led by Nicholson.
A small boat from the local coastguard then took them early on Sunday to a small islet, Íle du Sud, which is known as a favourite with shark-watching holiday-makers.
The crew could have left the area on Tuesday but decided to stay an extra day to pick up key equipment from their battered boat.
Their blue vessel, caught underneath breaking waves, is badly damaged, but the crew decided to remain for an extra 24 hours to complete a clean-up operation around the area.
“The bad things had to come off,” said Nicholson, having just stepped off the local fishing boat, ‘The Eliza’, that transported the nine-strong crew back to the mainland.
“We had a clear list of removing that equipment, and once we had all those off the boat it came down to removing things that were expensive.
“We’ve done a really good job in clearing it all up.”
Experienced New Zealander sailor Rob Salthouse was also keen to focus on the positives. “It’s just good to be back on dry land,” he said.
“I think the team has grown strong with what we’ve been through.”
Danish sailor Peter Wibroe, white shirt stained yellow by sand, sweat and sea salt, was full of admiration for Nicholson.
“I must say that the team worked really well together, especially Nico, the skipper, who led the whole situation in a very professional way.
He continued: “We all felt extremely safe despite the situation. We were conscious about what was going on and we all had our responsibilities.
“We worked really well as a team, and that’s why we’re all here today.”
The team’s main sponsors, Vestas, a wind energy company, said they were now focused on returning to the race which will continue until the end of June 2015.
“Though we won’t be able to compete in the next leg from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China, we are considering all available options for re-joining the race at a later stage,” said Morten Albæk, Vestas’ chief marketing officer.
“We’ll learn more about the details of what happened exactly when we have a chance to properly debrief with the crew, which we expect to happen in Abu Dhabi over the weekend.”
A spokesman from fellow sponsor Powerhouse added: “We at Powerhouse are extremely relieved that no one was injured as a result of the incident.
“When we entered the Volvo Ocean Race with Team Vestas Wind we understood it would be life at the extreme.
“The team still faces many uncertainties, however, we are more than ever committed to support the team in this extremely challenging situation and help them to get back in the race. We are deeply involved, in successful times and in challenging times.”
Peter Piot: discovering Ebola 'was the highlight of my life'
• Scientist says WHO took too long to deal with Ebola
• Calls American approach to Ebola ‘an epidemic of hysteria’ On Saturday’s
episode of Talk to Al Jazeera, Belgian microbiologist Peter Piot speaks frankly with presenter Felicity Barr about helping discover the Ebola virus in 1976.
“It was the highlight of my life,” admits Peter. “It's a dream of every microbiologist to discover a new virus."
28 years later, he’s critical of The World Health Organisation’s (WHO) response to the current outbreak.
"It took three months for the WHO to find out there was an Ebola outbreak. That I understand. Guinea had a poor laboratory infrastructure,” he says.
“I have much more of a problem with the fact that it took five months for WHO, for the international health regulations committee, for that's what it is, to declare this a state of emergency.
“It took a thousand dead Africans and two Americans who were repatriated to the US because they were infected. There's no excuse for that… It took too long; we wasted too much precious time."
Having waited too long to act, he believes the international community has then over-reacted in unhelpful ways. “There is an epidemic of Ebola in West Africa and then there is a second epidemic, an epidemic of mass hysteria that we saw particularly in North America,” says Peter. “It was really out of proportion with the issue.”
For example, he criticizes the governors of New York and New Jersey for mandating quarantine for healthcare workers returning from West Africa.
“Of course, people have become infected,” he says. “One nurse has become infected in Texas, but you know, putting people in quarantine who return from West Africa for 21 days – as some US states are imposing – doesn't make sense from a public health perspective. It's not cost-effective and also it's a major deterrent and disincentive for supporting the countries in West Africa.
“On the one hand, countries like the US and the UK really provide admirable support – money, human resources, even the military — and that's great. But you can't then say at the same time: 'When you come back, we put you quarantined for 21 days,' because then, you know, the number of people who want to do this, they usually have a busy life, they won't be volunteering anymore."
He says any potential solutions need to address both the lack of robust healthcare systems and the local population’s cultural habits and belief systems. For example, he says some parts of West Africa have a habit of touching the dead at funerals, while others may believe in ‘witchcraft.’
“The concept of an infectious agent is not always there,” he says. “People may think it's witchcraft or 'someone wanted me to die' or whatever…”
He says this is why: "You need people who speak the language, who understand the culture, who know what people think and feel.”
Talk To Al Jazeera’s interview with Peter premieres on Saturday, 6 December 2014
at 0400. For more information, visit http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/talktojazeera/
or follow #ajafrica on Twitter.
Team Vestas Wind race crew finally escape island
ALICANTE, Spain, December 2 – Chris Nicholson’s stranded Team Vestas Wind crew are finally on their way back to civilisation after two days sitting on a remote ‘sand pit’ in the Indian Ocean, where there was a risk of shark encounters.
The Volvo Ocean Race team dramatically grounded their boat after ploughing into a reef on St Brandon archipelago on Saturday at 19 knots and were forced to abandon it in the early hours of the following day, before wading through knee-deep water to a dry position.
They were then picked up by a coastguard boat from the nearby Íle du Sud, an almost deserted islet, with no communications with the outside world.
The islet is serviced weekly by a 20-metre fishing vessel, called ‘Eliza’, from Mauritius, which is some 430 kilometres away to the south-west. A trip to the holiday island takes more than a day to complete.
Australian skipper Nicholson’s nine-strong team finally were on their way after taking the ‘Eliza’ on Tuesday. From there, they plan to fly to Abu Dhabi at the end of the week.
Neil Cox, the team’s shore crew chief, told volvooceanrace.com on Tuesday: “We’ve had nine guys sitting on a sand pit in the middle of the Indian Ocean.
“You’d think it’s a bad movie. You sit there and talk to the coast guard and they’re telling us about everything we’re dealing with on the technical side, then they’re asking me to warn the guys that the reef is riddled full of sharks and barracuda and God knows what else.”
He added: “They’re telling me about a fisherman they found out there, who’d been basically mauled by a barracuda and there was barely much left of him to deal with.
“You’re sitting there, going, yeah, well, next time I talk to Nico (Nicholson) I might remind him that if they are wading out there in the reef, to keep their eyes open.”
The team will arrive in Mauritius mid-morning on Wednesday with literally the clothes they have on their backs, Cox said.
“We want to make sure that even the simple things are covered; a clean T-shirt, undies, a toothbrush, a bit of food,” he said.
“The coast guard here did a flyover yesterday and they parachuted in cans of Coke, chocolate and cookies.
“I don’t think people can totally appreciate how remote this place is. We saw there’s a coast guard out there; it’s literally a tool shed in someone’s backyard.”
The boat is being stripped of key kit and Cox is still working out how it can be retrieved.
He paid tribute to the crew for keeping their cool and professionalism after such a stunning collision on Leg 2 of the nine-month, round-the-world race.
“Their procedure, everything was as professional and as good as it could be – you couldn’t ask for more.”
Nicholson is a twice-Olympian, who is one of the most experienced off-shore sailors in the world. He said that a ‘mistake’ had been responsible for the collision with the reef, but did not elaborate.
The team plans to make a full statement on the facts later this week.
Exclusive: Life with ISIL, Al Nusra Front – the last footage of journalist murdered in Syria a year ago
Premieres 6 December on Al Jazeera English, 20.00GMT
Cameraman Yasser Al Jumaili’s unseen footage offers chilling insights into the lives of rebel fighters behind Syrian frontlines – but he pays the ultimate price.
A year after his murder in Syria, Al Jazeera honours Iraqi freelance cameraman Yasser Faisal Al Jumaili, whose last footage of rebel groups cost him his life. As the world demands to know who ISIL are, this film offers access to ISIL in their early phase, along with Al Nusra Front, The Free Syrian Army, Al Tawhid Brigade, and Ahrar Al Sham groups.
On 20 November 2013, Iraqi freelance cameraman Yasser Faisal Al Jumaili crossed the Turkish border into Syria with his trusted Syrian fixer Jomah Alqasem. By this time in Syria, various rebel groups were splitting from one another along ideological differences. Yasser’s assignment was to access the groups and build a picture of who these men were, away from rhetoric, both off-duty and on the frontlines. Now, in this film, only Jomah lives to tell the tale of their last assignment together.
Yasser manages to get access to ISIL in the early days, before they were on the world’s radar, before they had declared the caliphate. This was the moment they turned on other rebel groups considered traitors to their aims of establishing an Islamic state in Syria and Iraq.
His vivid account of their journey portrays the fragility of being embedded in a fast-changing war environment.
On 4 December 4 2013, as the crew headed for an interview with a top Nusra Front figure, their car was stopped. Yasser was shot multiple times with a Kalashnikov, his body left in the road. Yasser’s killers remain unknown.
In this film, we discover Yasser the journalist and the man, from moving accounts of those who knew him best professionally. But his unique footage, later smuggled out of Syria by friends and colleagues, stands here as the greatest testament.
Syria, The Last Assignment, airs on Al Jazeera English on 6 December at 20.00GMT and later available to view at www.aljazeera.com/syriathelastassignment.
- For press inquiries contact email@example.com
- Jomah, Yasser’s fixer, is available for media interviews. Yasser is based near to the Turkish-Syrian border and has Skype. He does speak English fluently but Arabic being his mother tongue, he is a better storyteller and his account is richer in Arabic.
- For various reasons, primarily security, the family will not be available
TX Times and Repeats
- 6 December – 20.00GMT, 8pm London, 3pm Toronto, 11pm Nairobi/Baghdad, 7am Sydney on 7 December
- 7 December – 12:00GMT 12pm London, 7am Toronto, 3pm Nairobi/Baghdad, 11pm Sydney
- 8 December – 1:00GMT, 12pm Sydney, 8pm on 7 December in Toronto
- 9 December – 6:00GMT, 6am London, 9am Nairobi/Baghdad, 5pm Sydney